Today I have got an article for you about interpreting Genesis literally, and the conclusions drawn from such an interpretation. It is by Dick Fischer, linked from the American Scientific Affiliation website. My first introduction to this article was in my General Physics course at Westmont. During a lecture about creation and science, my professor cited it, challenging my views at the time and sparking a process which has eventually me to my current opinions on the subject. I will save any major commentary until after the jump: “The Days of Creation”.
I really appreciate Mr. Fischer’s approach in this article. Sticking solely within the scripture itself, he brings up rational, text-based arguments for a day-age interpretation of Genesis’s creation account. That he is able to make a compelling case without appealing to the scientific evidence impresses me very much; I’m relatively sure I could not have done the same. The article, while sometimes perhaps unnecessarily caustic toward YECs (although perhaps not), still manages to present an argument for old-earth creationism without advocating evolution and should still appeal to those dead-set against allowing any sort of Darwinian mechanisms in creation.
Although all of the arguments are interesting to me, particularly so is the conclusion of the article, where Fischer finally does consent to speak on evolution:
I suspect the beginning impetus for the most recent surge in young-earth creationism stemmed from a preoccupation with the general theory of evolution and its atheistic overtones. Once the course was set, blinders were applied and there has been no listening to reason ever since. Young-earth creationists seem to have cast scientists into Satan’s robes and will use whatever argument, spurious or otherwise, to vanquish the foe.
The case for evolution does have a principal requirement. Long periods of time are needed for species to slowly evolve from simple to more complex life forms. If millions of years are available, then some aspects of the theory of evolution could be viable. If the time required is denied, then gradual evolution becomes an impossibility and only sudden creation will work. Defeating evolution at any cost appears to have been the prime motivator of young-earth creationists, but now the helmsman has been swept overboard, vested interests have been established, and many creationists are caught up in perpetuating a wayward “ministry.”
The Old Earth / Young Earth debate is one of the more interesting things to me, especially since I’ve found myself on both sides of it at various points in my (relatively short) life time. Growing up reading Zoobooks and watching National Geographic videos, it never occured to me that an evolutionary view of the origins of humanity and my belief in God as Creator might be incompatible. By the time I was in high school, through various media, the idea that evolutionary thought led inexorably toward atheism had begun to present itself to me and I, necessarily concerned more about my soul than about science, had forsaken that mindset and adopted that of young-earth creationism.
As I was firmly ensconced in those views by the time I started college for a physics degree, my General Physics professor’s aforementioned lecture on creation and science caught me completely by surprise. To see an upstanding Christian, obviously strong enough in his faith to merit a tenured faculty position at an institute of higher education, espousing old-earth views blew my mind, and started the ‘journey’ I mentioned in the first paragraph. Now, in my not-that-advanced age, I am attempting to meld my newfound knowledge of scientific truths with my pre-existing Christian beliefs in Creation, and this article has provided a good jumping-off point. Hopefully this ongoing process will enable me to speak more eloquently and intelligently about the subject than I have in this essay.
Finally, I hope that this article will provide a similar impetus for anyone who has ever questioned how to read Genesis, wondered if the old-earth view is compatible with Scripture, or thought about the methods of Creation. I think Fischer’s words here show that Scripture is strong enough to support a worldview that agrees with the naturally observable world.